There’s never a dull moment on the 2020 campaign trail for Democrats. This weekend saw two Democrat senators get in the race: Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. Meanwhile, Cory Booker’s playbook appears to rely heavily on a big win in South Carolina, Kamala Harris is battling some demons from her prosecutorial past, and Kirsten Gillibrand goes all in on eliminating private health insurance.
For those stories and more, check out AR Intel’s weekly 2020 Movers & Shakers below:
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
One of two Senate Democrats jumping in last weekend, Klobuchar made it official in a snowstorm in downtown Minneapolis on Sunday. Joining her on stage were fellow Minnesota Democrats Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and Sen. Tina Smith.
The Minnesota senator faced accusations last week that her not-so-Midwest-nice style made her an extremely difficult boss to work for, according to the Huffington Post. She responded to some of those accusations, which included public humiliation and what could only be described as maid-like duties, by saying, “I have high expectations for myself, I have high expectations for the people that work for me, but I have high expectations for this country.”
Klobuchar also threw in a jab at Hillary Clinton during her announcement speech when she described how she intends to campaign. “We’re going to be in Iowa and Wisconsin. We’re starting in Wisconsin because, as you remember, there wasn’t a lot of campaigning in Wisconsin in 2016,” she said. “With me, that changes. … I’m going to be there a lot.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
The other Senate Democrat making it official this weekend: Elizabeth Warren, who kicked things off in Lawrence, Mass. on Saturday. Warren launched her exploratory committee on Dec. 31 last year and immediately began staffing up in key early primary states like New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina. She was joined Saturday by fellow Massachusetts Democrats Sen. Ed Markey, Reps. Joe Kennedy III and Lori Trahan.
While Warren’s kick-off event made news, it was her remarks in Iowa on Sunday that raised eyebrows. “By the time we get to 2020, Donald Trump may not even be President,” she said. “In fact, he may not even be a free person.”
Trump responded to Warren’s announcement by asking if she planned to “run as our first Native American presidential candidate.” Last week, the Washington Post reported that Warren wrote “American Indian” on her Texas Bar registration card in the 1980s. She privately apologized to the Cherokee Nation recently for falsely claiming tribal citizenship.
Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
Hickenlooper had previously stated that he planned to make a formal decision about whether to run for president by March, but a new report from the Denver Post could throw a wrench into that plan. A state ethics watchdog committee voted unanimously to not dismiss a complaint filed against the former governor for allegedly accepting “free jet rides in violation of state rules.” According to the Post, the ethics complaint likely won’t be resolved by March, meaning Hickenlooper could be launching his presidential campaign under an ethics cloud.
Former Vice President Joe Biden
No one is exactly sure what timetable Biden is using, or whether he’s using one at all, when it comes to deciding to run in 2020. But a new report from McClatchy indicates that a huge swatch of the Democrat consultant class thinks it’s a bad idea for Biden to run. They spoke to 31 Democratic consultants and summarized their findings like so:
Strikingly, these conversations yielded a similar view: The Democratic political community is more broadly and deeply pessimistic about Biden’s potential candidacy than is commonly known. While these strategists said they respect Biden, they cited significant disadvantages for his campaign — from the increasingly liberal and non-white Democratic electorate to policy baggage from his years in the Senate and a field of rivals that includes new, fresh-faced candidates.
“There’s a lot of reason to think he would wind up a significantly weaker candidate than Hillary,” one source said.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
During a conversation with Obama bro Jon Lovett, Gillibrand called eliminating private insurance an “urgent goal” of hers. This follows Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-CA) claim that she also supports eliminating private health insurance:
Meanwhile, potential Democrat presidential candidate and Senate colleague, Michael Bennet (D-CO), called eliminating private health insurance a “bad opening offer” on the part of the Democrats running for president.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Ghosts from Harris’s prosecutorial past continue to haunt her presidential campaign. After labeling herself as a “progressive prosecutor” in her new book, a San Francisco law professor wrote a New York Times op-ed disputing that claim. On Monday, CNN reported on even more evidence that demonstrates Harris’s “progressive” label is dubious at best. She supported “a city policy that required law enforcement to turn over undocumented juvenile immigrants to federal immigration authorities if they were arrested and suspected of committing a felony, regardless of whether they were actually convicted of a crime.”
Here’s what that meant in practical terms:
Multiple juveniles faced deportation over relatively minor crimes: in one instance reported by the Times, a 14-year-old who had been in the United States since he was 2 was handed over to ICE after he took a BB gun to school to show off to friends. In another instance, a 13-year-old and his family faced deportation after he punched another boy at school and stole 46 cents.
These stories run counter to the image Harris is attempting to portray as she runs for president.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that Booker is putting quite a few of his eggs in South Carolina’s basket as he maps out a strategy for winning the Democratic nomination next year. With a high percentage of African American voters, Booker’s team feels his message of love can resonate in the Palmetto State.
“We have to have presidents that are about healing and bringing people together, about confronting injustice, telling the truth about racism, not participating in racist statements demeaning and degrading people like we’re seeing now from the highest office in the land,” Booker told reporters Monday.
His call frequently resonated with black voters and officials in South Carolina, who repeatedly raised concerns that people with racist beliefs have been emboldened in the last two years.